A Christian school principal in Louisiana, a pastor and former “Survivor” contestant, who was arrested last week after he gagged students as a form of discipline, is defending his actions. , claiming that the students bullied their teacher.
John Raymond, 60, principal of Lakeside Christian Institute in Slidell, was arrested Thursday on three counts of cruelty to a minor, Slidell Police Department said in a press release.
A police investigation found that on March 18, Raymond taped the mouths of three 13-year-old students with a roll of duct tape after they were expelled from class for “talking too much,” according to the statement.
He wrapped bandages “around their heads” and brought them back to the classroom in about 45 minutes, police said. Another school administrator was upset and allegedly removed the tape from the children’s faces, according to the police account.
Police said they had to use scissors to remove the bandage because it was wrapped around the student’s head.
“During the encounter, the students said they had difficulty breathing and the removal process was very painful,” police said.
Raymond refutes the police account of events in a verbose statement posted on the school’s website Sunday, saying that the students involved had bullied their teacher, he had put a piece of Scotch tape over their mouths – not around their heads, and this tape last no more than 10 minutes.
He explained that on March 17, a 7th grade teacher came to him in tears, “ready to terminate her job because of her students’ persistent disruptive behavior,” who Do not stop talking in class. She asked for his help, Raymond said.
The incident involved five teenage boys in the class, according to the statement. Raymond said he has had to deal with this class several times since the beginning of the school year because of behavioral problems.
He said he talked to students in the hallway, not in his office, and told them, “I love you guys, but this has been going on all year and it has to stop immediately. “
He then allegedly pulled out a roll of clear Scotch packing tape and gave them an ultimatum: “I’ll give you a choice. We can go downstairs and call your parents and you can wait in the hallway to get suspended, or you can get duct tape over your mouth and learn to be quiet during class.”
He said all five students chose the tape.
“I removed the pieces one by one and carefully placed it over their mouths to make sure it didn’t touch their noses or interfere with their breathing. At no point did the bandage wrap around any student’s head,” Raymond wrote.
After the bandages were applied, he said he asked the students if they were in pain, and they “coordinatedly shook their heads.” Raymond said he asked if they could breathe normally and they nodded again. He noted that students can take the tape off at any time.
Raymond took the kids back to class and told the principal what he had done, according to his statement. The principal said she was uncomfortable and he offered to let them “sit out” for about 10 minutes, Raymond wrote. She protested for two minutes and he agreed, the statement said.
Minutes later, the two of them called the student out of the classroom and “gently” removed the tape, he said, adding that no one was harmed or shown discomfort.
Raymond said the tape could not be applied for “more than eight to ten minutes in total” from the time it was put on and taken off.
He stressed the school is a zero-tolerance policy towards bullies.
“This means that students cannot bully each other or bully teachers,” Raymond said.
Of the five teenagers involved, he said, the parents of three have charged. Two other students were “going to school as usual,” and their parents supported the discipline, he said.
“We love all of our students at Lakeside and strive to maintain a safe and productive learning environment. Character building in teenage boys can be difficult,” Raymond said. “These students are given a choice between suspension and temporary bandages. They never suffer physical pain. Their breathing is never impaired. The bandages never wrap around their head. And it will. off in less than 10 minutes. No student has been subjected to this. cruel or harmed in any way.”
Raymond was booked into Slidell City Jail on Thursday after he turned himself into a police officer.
He appeared on the show “Survivor” in 2002. He was also a member of the Louisiana Republican Central Committee and unsuccessfully ran for the Louisiana House of Representatives in 2018. Lafayette Daily Advertiser reported.